Oft in Sorrow

This song came up again in the course of my study this morning and I thought I just had to share it.

The poem was written by Henry Kirk White sometime around 1805. Henry White was born in 1785, his father, a butcher in Nottingham, and mother who ran a girl’s boarding school. From an early age Henry excelled in his studies, learning Latin and Greek, and was a published and awarded poet at the age of 15. Through his friend, R.W. Almond, White came to faith in Jesus, and planned to study for ministry. He attended St. John’s College in Cambridge, but soon became ill and died at the age of 22 on Oct. 19, 1806 before he could graduate. Shortly after his death, the manuscript for his poem “Oft in Sorrow” was found and by 1812 had been adapted as a hymn for the church.

The song is a reminder that often the Christian’s journey in this world is filled with tears, sorrow, pain and loss. We are called to join the war, to walk the walk, to take up the cross. Often we are met with failures; our own and those around us. The song is one of encouragement, that the strength for the journey, the victory in battle, the triumph in the end is not ours, but the Lord’s; and because it is His it is sure and certain. “Onward then to battle move; more than conquerors ye shall prove: though opposed by many a foe, Christian soldiers, onward go.”

Here is his poem, and there is a video of the hymn as well.

Oft in danger, oft in woe,
Onward, Christians, onward go,
Fight the fight, maintain the strife,
Strengthened with the Bread of Life.

Onward, Christians, onward go,
Join the war, and face the foe;
Faint not, much doth yet remain;
Dreary is the long campaign.

Shrink not, Christians: will ye yield?
Will ye quit the painful field?
Will ye flee in danger’s hour?
Know ye not your Captain’s pow’r?

Let your drooping hearts be glad;
March, in heav’nly armor clad;
Fight, nor think the battle long;
Vict’ry soon shall tune your song.

Let not sorrow dim your eye,
Soon shall ev’ry tear be dry;
Let not woe your course impede,
Great your strength, if great your need.

Onward then to battle move;
More than conqu’rors ye shall prove:
Though opposed by many a foe,
Christian soldiers, onward go.